If you’ve got five minutes, here’s a story about some new happenings at Ignite Seattle, the successful, 12-year-old speaker series that gives participants five minutes to give a compelling talk.
Ahead of the organization’s 37th event, Oct. 4 at The Egyptian theater in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Ignite has announced two new partnerships to help its all-volunteer army pull off more shenanigans.
Zac Cohn, a speaker and slide wrangler at Ignite, told GeekWire that every couple of years the organization looks for ways to make its events — which already boast a diverse lineup and tickets priced for nearly everyone — even better.
“Sometimes it’s easy to rest on what we do really, really well. Sometimes we get inspired to push the envelope, experiment, try something new,” Cohn said. “We’re entering one of those times now. One of the things we haven’t really ever tried to do is bring in some sort of financial sponsor. With money we can do a lot of interesting things that we just can’t afford to do …”
But Ignite — which is a production of the Seattle-based cultural center and performance space Town Hall — didn’t want to just pair up with an entity that would be completely disconnected from its community — unrelated to the event, the organization and the mission.
“We have a strong no-pitching philosophy for our speakers so no one’s up there pitching their companies or something like that — and we didn’t want to have our emcee turn around and say, ‘Now go buy Coke,'” Cohn said. “So we were looking around Seattle for an organization that was interested in getting their name out to the community but was also providing some value to the community. And WeWork came up.”
WeWork, the big co-working space company, is dramatically expanding its presence in Seattle, and by early next year will occupy 1.5 million square feet across 14 buildings. As part of its sponsorship, it will offer the Ignite Seattle community a free first week of work at its newest location in downtown Seattle at 1411 4th Ave.
“That’s just an extra little bonus that we can give to our community in addition to all of the great and weird experiments we’re going to try to make the event even better,” Cohn said.
As for what those “great and weird experiments” will entail, Cohn would only share that some of that would happen before the event and some would occur during and after.
Ignite also announced that it is partnering with The World Is Fun, the nonprofit with a mission to get people involved and volunteering.
TWIF will serve as Ignite Seattle’s new 501(c)3 umbrella fiscal sponsor, which will allow Ignite to accept donations while also managing Ignite’s accounting and books. TWIF was founded by Amy Faulkner, an Ignite alumni, and it will also save Ignite from having to recruit a bunch of volunteers, as it can staff an event with its own network of helpers.
“We can focus on operations, we can focus on running a great event, and we don’t have to focus on administrivia, which is great. That’s not what we signed up to go do,” Cohn said.
The event next month ($10 tickets here, and it sells out quickly) will feature 12 speakers, talking on a variety of subjects including everything from the Instant Pot to being black in tech to the Me Too movement. Here’s the full list from Ignite:
- De-Mystifying the Instant Pot – Sumit Basu
- Summer Dance Pop, 1595–>Present – Michael Hamm
- A Survival Guide for Black Millennial Single Mothers Striving to Slay – Sydney Swonigan
- What Military Peacekeeping Taught Me About Humility – Urs Koenig
- Translating Earth’s Historical Record – How The Chemistry of Microscopic Shells Tells Us About Our Past, And Our Future – Elisa Bonnin
- Exploring the 8th Continent – Cindy Wu
- So, You’re Black in Tech? – Rovina Broomfield
- Me Too: What it Takes To Come Forward – Sarah Schacht
- How to Thru-Hike Without Suffering – Beth Jusino
- Juliet Wasn’t Dumb & We Need to Stop Assuming She Was – Emma Broback
- Physician, Speak Thyself: Storytelling As Healing In Healthcare – Sam Blackma
- Oceans and Robots and Volcanoes, Oh My! – Dana Manalang